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 published: 2006-05-09

Faithfulness for faithfulness

St Mary Magdalene Church, the home parish of the Schimmel family in Johnson Creek – a "base" for the Pilgrim MTA


Parroquia Santa Maria Magdalena, en la parroquia de Gilbert Schimmel, con familiares: Joseph, Virginia y William Burnett

St Mary Magdelenes church, Gilbert Schimmel’s parish church, with relatives:  Joseph, Virginia and William Burnett

Pfarrkirche Maria Magdalena in Gilbert Schimmels Heimat, mit Verwandten: Joseph, Virginia und William Burnett


Phyllis Schicker, misionera de la Campaña

Phyllis Schicker, Pilgrim MTA coordinator

Phyllis Schicker, Missionarin der Pilgernden Gottesmutter


Escalera en la iglesia. Arriba, una de las salas del colegio parroquial

Church staircase up to one of the classrooms

Diese Treppe in der Kirche führt zu einem Klassenzimmer der Sonntagsschule


Estatua de Maria Magdalena

St Mary Magdelene statue

Statue der heiligen Maria Magdalena

Fotos: Jentz © 2006




USA, Christi Jentz. "The Schimmel’s now went to the little mission parish in Johnson Creek. – St Mary Magdalene- for church and school. The church had to be built at this time, and Karl (Gilbert’s father) was one of the first to offer his assistance. The Schimmel horses did their share to help clear the building site… Kate Schimmel was involved in collecting church funds. She often had little Gilbert with her in the buggy as she visited families throughout the area… All the Schimmel children went to the little Catholic School at St Mary Magdalene in Johnson creek. The long walk became a regular part of daily life. Gilbert made the trek (two and a half miles each way) daily with his brother Henry, the brother closet to him in age…In the parish register Gilbert’s first communion is recorded with the date December 16, 1915." (Father Jonathan Niehaus, Gilbert Schimmel, The End Crowns the Work) Many years later, the Schimmel presence is still felt at this small town parish where the Mother Thrice Admirable remains actively involved through the Pilgrim MTA and through the membership of Wayne Burnett, Gilbert’s Grand-nephew.

Phyllis Schicker, Pilgrim MTA coordinator for St Mary Magdalene Church, writes about the parish involvement of Schoenstatt in Johnson Creek.

The Pilgrim MTA visiting 17 homes

"Our Blessed Mother desired very much to be a part of our parish family. In the late 1980’s, a lady I worked with told me about Schoenstatt and how her children enjoyed going to the weekend and weekly camps at the International Center in Waukesha. This led to my own children attending such camps.

When I found out that there were weekend retreats for women, I quickly jumped at the opportunity as I felt something was missing from my life. Upon attending my first retreat, I was hooked. I felt so fulfilled after the retreat I wanted other people to hear about Schoenstatt. So I asked Sr. Elizabeth to come and speak to our women’s group. She came and brought with her a Pilgrim MTA. She handed it to one of our members, Carol Hunn, and briefly explained to her that she should travel from home to home.

We placed the MTA in the front of our church, put announcements in the bulletin and talked with people. Finally, after several weeks, we got a group of 8 people started. That was about 1992. Some of these original group members still belong to a MTA group. Over the years, the Blessed Mother has called more people to participate in a Pilgrim MTA group. Usually, once a year, we gather the MTAs and make a display in the front of church to promote joining a group. (Last October, the display had been up less than 24 hours when a young mother expressed interest and did, indeed, decide to have the Blessed Mother come to her home on a regular basis.) We now have 4 MTAs groups with her traveling to a total of 17 homes. We also have a Children’s MTA, which gets routed to the homes of our religious education students, usually focusing on a different grade level each year.

The Blessed Mother is at work

Once a year, we try to have a crowning ceremony for our MTAs, sometimes joining with the groups at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Lake Mills. We also try to make an annual pilgrimage to the shrine in Waukesha. However, in 2005 we went to the shrine in Madison, as most of the members had never been there.

The Blessed Mother is at work in our parish. Some members of the groups have attended retreats at the International Center in Waukesha. Four of the members have made their Covenant of Love, one has a Home Shrine and two more are preparing to have their Home Shrine dedicated in the near future. For about two years now, I have led a women’s group in reading and studying some of the books by Father Kentenich. We have a small MTA picture in the Reconciliation room of our church.

The Blessed Mother was with us as we participated in Renew 2000 which led to the new Millennium, holding small group discussion sessions and conducting Bible study sessions. She continues to help, form, and educate us through a growing religious education program and adult faith formation program. Schoenstatt has indeed become a way of life for those of us who are deeply involved in this lay movement."

The relatives of Gilbert Schimmel

Mrs. Virgina Burnett, Gilbert Schimmel’s niece, the mother of Wayne Burnett, Gilbert Schimmel’s Grand-nephew mentioned above, "is so much  like Kitty Schimmel in the way she talks and her mannerisms", shares Christi Jentz. They even say the same things. Mae Wacker says that Kitty was most like her father. I would assume that Gilbert was a lot like Virginia…" It is great to meet relatives of a person one loves a a model for Schoenstatt life.

And it is great to know that the MTA showers her graces on the hometown of such a person, faithfulness for faithfulness.

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